Irish Sheepherders of Lake County Oregon
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Five sons of Thomas Henry and Mary Catherine (Kingston) Sherlock immigrated to Oregon: Thomas Henry III, Richard Lloyd, Charles Edward, William John Dowman and Walter Dowman. Thomas III and Richard went to New Zealand to visit their older brother Jonathan Wigmore. Records show Richard L. Sherlock departing (probably London) on 18 Oct. 1868 aboard the ship Maori and arriving in Aukland on 17 Feb. 1869, a length of 120 days. A record for Thomas arriving in New Zealand has not been found so far but it is assumed that he arrived with his brother. In 1871, both Richard and Thomas left for the United States. After first arriving in San Francisco, Tom and Dick settled briefly in Humboldt County, Calif. In 1871, Tom settled in the town of Summer Lake in Lake County, Ore. Dick joined him the following year with his partner William Harvey. Dick and William each owned one-half interest in a packhorse.

The younger brothers joined Thomas and Richard one by one, leaving only George Kingston Sherlock of the male siblings in Ireland. The five brothers in Oregon made their home in Lake County. There they herded sheep for other ranchers and gradually built up equity in many bands of sheep and more than 1,700 acres of land west of Summer Lake. The Sherlock brothers are believed to have built a barn and house at Thousand Springs, Ore., with lumber which was transported by raft or barge from the Benefiel Mill on Hampton Creek at the south end of the valley. There was more water in the lake at the turn of the century, which enabled the raftsmen to maneuver the craft within a few miles of their ranch.

In recent times, Boyd Claggett, a manager of the Summer Lake Wildlife Refuge, and a friend, Andy Roth, found the remains of the raft about a half-mile from the water. Claggett described the raft as being about 16 feet wide and 25 feet long. Boards of 2 inches by 12 inches were nailed at intervals across the top. When found, the raft remains were partially buried under a dune. The remains were eventually completely buried beneath sand.

Isolation was the chief deterrent to growth in Oregon between 1860 and 1880. It was not until 1883 that the Northern Pacific Railroad linked Oregon with the rest of the nation. As the railroads spread, the population of the state, attracted by subsidy land programs, doubled before 1890. The Sherlocks may have taken advantage of the subsidies. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that Oregon began to develop its great lumber, grain, fisheries and power resources.

The Oregon Sherlocks made Lake County their home, living near the towns of Paisley, Summer Lake, Thousand Springs and Lakeview. Lakeview, the county seat, is one of the highest towns in Oregon and was established in 1876. After the native Indians were subdued and a land office was set up, the vast range land surrounding the community was opened up to ranchers.

In the 1880 U.S. census, Tom, Dick and Charles are 28, 27 and 25 years old respectively, and they all list their occupation as sheepherder. Eventually, Walter and Willie joined their brothers in Lake County, and the Sherlock brothers became well-known and respected businessmen and landowners in the area. The Sherlock brothers were among many Irish who settled in Lake County. The county’s population was 2,804 in 1880, 229 of these of foreign birth. And 45 of those people were born in Ireland. A study titled “Dunhallow to Oregon 1880-1960” is a record of the movement of people from Dunhallow in northwest County Cork to Lake County over the span of a century. It states, “The first immigrants in this area from County Cork were the Sherlock brothers of Bandon.... Thus the Sherlock family became one of the established families in the area (and remained so until the 1960s) engaging in major sheep operations around Summer Lake and Lakeview.”

To this day there are a few geographic locations in Lake County that are reminders of the Sherlock family presence there. Sherlock Vat Dipping Springs is located a few miles northwest of Summer Lake in the Fremont National Forest. The Sherlock Gulch Reservoir is west of Paisley, about halfway between Lake Abert and Bluejoint Lake. A Sherlock Ranch is identified by the Department of Geology of Portland State University. The university’s records show the ranch located along U.S. Highway 395 about halfway between the Oregon-California border and Lakeview.

Thomas Henry (“Tom”) Sherlock III was baptized 21 June 1850 at Ballymodan in Bandon. Tom and his brother Dick came to New Zealand and helped their older brother Jonathan raise sheep for a brief time before they went to the United States. Tom settled in Summer Lake in Lake County, Ore. A one-time neighbor of Tom, Jennie Bonham, stated that while a bachelor he would often iron his shirt with a teakettle when getting ready for a dance. On 23 Jan. 1879, he purchased more than 165 acres in Lake County, and bought another 160 acres on 15 March 1884. About 1889, he married Lillian Brockhof. She was born in February 1868 in England. On 3 Aug. 1904, Tom purchased 80 acres in Lake County, but he had already begun to dispose of his land interests in Summer Lake. However, it was not until 1907 that he found a buyer for the Thousand Springs property, which Tom had bought earlier from his brother Walter. The Thousand Springs property was purchased by L.D. Hoy, a sheep buyer, who had met Tom when passing through the county. Tom invested in property in Davis Creek, Calif., and may have lived there for a while beginning in 1904. However, the 29 June 1913 issue of the Lakeview Examiner shows Tom having 2,500 head of sheep, including 500 wethers (gelded male sheep), at his Paisley ranch. Some time later he suffered a nervous breakdown because of financial worries and died of pneumonia at Alturas, Calif. Tom and Lillian had three children:

  • Kenneth Scott, born 25 July 1890, in San Francisco, Calif. He later lived in Modoc County, Calif. This Sherlock family was one of several cousins to live in Modoc County and there is a Sherlock Spring in Modoc that may be named after one of the family members. He married Marvel B. Roy, who was born in 27 Nov. 1896 in California. In the 1930 census, the family is living in Chico, Calif. Kenneth died 13 May 1975 and Marvel died 29 April 1976, both in Oroville, Calif. They had two children:

a. Kenneth Evan, born 19 May 1916 in Modoc County. He died 11 Jan. 1999 in Lake County, Ill.

    • Beatrice, born 19 Oct. 1917 in Modoc County.
    • Lillian, born 8 March 1922 in Modoc County.
  • Kingston, born in September 1892 in Lake County, Ore.

Richard Lloyd (“Dick”) Sherlock was born 14 Dec. 1852 in Bandon. After a trip to New Zealand in 1869 with his brother Tom to raise sheep with their older brother Jonathan, Dick and Tom went to the United States. They briefly settled in Humboldt County, Calif., and Dick eventually moved on to Lake County, Ore., in 1872 to join Tom.

Dick’s occupation is listed as “sheepherder” in the 1880 U.S. census. He purchased 160 acres in Lake County, and bought another 177.6 acres on 1 Aug. 1883. In 1888, he married Anita (aka Annetta) Tucker, born about 1864 in Oregon. She had been previously married twice and had a daughter from each. In 1888, Dick was elected a county commissioner and served one term. On 2 June 1890, he bought 80 acres in Lake County. With the exception of two years in the Klondike, following news of the gold strikes in 1898, Dick spent his entire life in the sheep herding business. He is listed in records of stampeders who embarked on a Yukon River trip from Lake Bennett to Dawson City. Led by legendary Canadian Mountie Sam Steele, the Northwest Mounted Police contingent at Lake Bennett worked painstakingly to keep track of the flotilla of 7,000 boats, skows, barges and rafts.

Dick is said to be the first person to harvest hay in the Silver Lake Valley. He is listed as a “stockman” in the 1900 census and his sheep ranch was 1½ miles south of the Summer Lake post office. He purchased 160 acres in Lake County on 16 Dec. 1907. The 27 April 1911 issue of the Lakeview Examiner reported that “Dick Sherlock has accepted a position as camptender for Ed Stephenson the Sheepman.”

As part of a Works Progress Administration project in 1939, a longtime resident of Lake County, Gus Schroeder, told one story involving Dick Sherlock: “We didn’t have much racin’. Guess the boys was too tired ridin’ range. But I did see one race I’ll never forget. It was at Paisley. There was a feller there called Dick Sherlock. Nobody liked him very much. An’ there was Uncle George Duncan. Sherlock had what they called a sheep camp team, an’ Uncle George had a span of bays. Some way they got arguin’ about which could go faster, an’ they settled it on the track. There was a mile track an’ these two men got out, one in his buckboard – that was Sherlock – an’ Uncle George in his buggy, an’ away they went lickity-split. They run them horses clear ‘round that mile track. Ev’ry minnit look’d like one or ‘tother’d go over. Everybody in tow – ‘bout two or three hundred people – was out yellin’ their fool head off. Even the women was out, yellin’, “Come on, Uncle George! Come on, Uncle George!” Uncle George beat by ‘bout 60 feet.”

Dick and Anita were divorced about 1926. In the 1930 census, Dick is listed as a boarder in a home in West Side, Lake County, Ore. He died 4 Feb. 1937 in Lake County and is buried in an unmarked grave at Sunset Park Cemetery in Lakeview. Dick and Anita had three daughters:

  • Hester C., born about 1890 in in Lake County. She married Stephen W. Moss on 30 April 1910 in Lake County. They’re living in Ashland, Ore., in 1920, and in West Chiloquin, Ore., in 1930. and in the Hester died 30 Nov. 1933 in Klamath County, Ore. They had a son:

a. Ned V., born about 1916 in Oregon.

  • Helen L., born in 1893 in Oregon. She married David P. Malley on 23 Sept. 1917 in Crook County, Ore. He was born in 1869 in Nevada. Helen’s mother is listed as living with them in Paisley in the 1920 census.
  • Edna Gertrude, born in 1895 in Oregon. She married, first, _____ Smith on 3 Jan. 1914 in Lake County. He was born in California. They had a daughter:
        • Edwina, born in 1915 in California.

Edna married, second, G.L. Cousineau, born in 1879 in Canada. They had a daughter:

a. Mary E., born 3 July 1918 in Bend, Ore. In the 1930 census, she is living with her grandmother Anita (Tucker) Sherlock in Los Angeles. Mary married _____ Bushman. She died 19 Jan. 1981.

Charles Edward (“Charlie”) Sherlock was baptized privately 3 Nov. 1853 at St. Peter’s Church in Bandon. Charles reportedly walked from New York to Oregon to join his brothers. The money given to him by his father before he left Ireland was largely spent on firearms, as he had visions of engaging in warfare with American Indians. When he was conscripted to serve in the Modoc War he thought his dream had come true. But he was made a cook and never took part in any military fighting.

Charlie ended up raising sheep with his brothers. He made his first of many land purchases on 15 March 1876, when he bought more than 153 acres in Lake County. He purchased another 160 acres in Lake County on 20 March 1882. Working and saving his money for several years, he finally collected enough to purchase his own flock of sheep. One day while herding the sheep along a precipitous mountain path, the lead ram slipped and fell over the cliff. Every one of the hard-earned sheep followed the leader over the edge, and Charlie was helpless to prevent it. He had to start all over again from scratch. In time he also had a horse ranch. The S2S (Sherlock and two sons) branding iron became a treasured family heirloom in the home of one of his sons, Irving.

Charlie married Ada Hammersley in Oregon about 1890. She was born 6 Aug. 1866 in Oregon. Charlie bought more than 40 acres on 20 Feb. 1895, 120 acres on 30 Aug. 1909, and another 40 acres on 4 Aug. 1911 – all in Lake County. The November 1912 issue of the Irish News of Lakeview reported “Charles Sherlock, and Dennis O'Conner, last week sold 2500 head of course wool lambs to Mr. Deegan, the Salt Lake Buyers, price paid being $3.35 per head. The sheep were delivered at Lakeview.” On 29 June 1913, the Lakeview Examiner listed Charlie as having 12,000 head of sheep, of which 8,000 were lambs. On 21 April 1921, the Lakeview Examiner reported “Sheep shearing has started at the Sherlock shearing corrals south west of the town of Silver Lake. It is understood that shearing by hand is being paid for at the rate of 10 cents per head and board, and machine shearing, at 14 cents per head and board.” Charlie and Ada were among seven people who bought more than 1,480 acres in two purchases in 1924. More than 1,320 of those acres were in Klamath County, Ore., and 160 acres were in Lake County. Charlie and Ada later moved to California and he died 24 March 1944 in Los Angeles. Ada died 20 Feb. 1961 in Los Angeles. They had two sons:

  • Charles Edward Jr. (“Ned”), born 20 Dec. 1891 in Lakeview, Ore. He married Tyra Howe, who was born 13 Oct. 1895 in Massachusetts. Ned operated the family ranch for many years, which was located 6 miles south of Lakeview, Ore., near Hot Springs. On 12 Jan. 1928, the Lakeview Examiner reported that Ned had been selected to be one of the directors of the city’s Commericial National Bank. He was president of the Lakeview Roundup Association (an annual rodeo event) from 1931-36. In 1963, he sold most of his livestock and began selling the desert and mountain range lands of his ranch. Ned died 13 Dec. 1974 in Redondo Beach, Calif. Tyra died in February 1987 in Roseville, Calif. They had one son:
  • Eugene E., who was born in 1924 in Oregon. He died unmarried and without issue.
  • Irving Andrew, born 28 Jan. 1894 in Lakeview. In 1913, he married Miriam J. Sutliff, who was born 26 April 1895 in Illinois. Irving ran a plant nursery in Burbank, Calif., and their Pacific Palisades home was wonderfully landscaped. Irving died 12 April 1976 in Pacific Palisades, and Miriam died 15 Dec. 1988 in Laguna Beach, Calif. They had a son:
  • Charles Irving (“Pat”), born 3 Dec. 1919 in Burbank, Calif. He died in August 1985 in San Antonio, Texas. He had a daughter:

i. Patricia.

William John Dowman (“Willie”) Sherlock was born 3 June 1865 in Bandon. After studying in the common schools until he was 14, he went to sea as an apprentice and rose from that position to second mate on a ship. For 10 years, Willie sailed and visited many ports around the world. In 1883, he married Lucy Austin, daughter of William and Jane (Barrett) Austin. Lucy was born about 1865 in Ireland, and their wedding took place in London, where her father worked as a manufacturer. They made their home in Cork County, Ireland, for about four years before immigrating to the United States in 1888 and arriving in Lake County, Ore., in June of that year. On 18 Feb. 1892, he bought 160 acres in Lake County. He eventually had a good ranch near Paisley, Ore., with several thousand sheep. Willie is shown in the 1910 census as living with his brother Dick’s family in Paisley. Willie died 8 Aug. 1910 in Lakeview and is buried in the Paisley Cemetery. His life as a seaman is symbolized with a depiction of an anchor on his tombstone.

William John Dowman Sherlock’s grave in the Paisley Cemetery in Paisley, Ore.

Willie and Lucy had four sons:

  • William John, born about 1884, who later lived in Co. Cork, Ireland.
  • Richard Flemming, born 3 Aug. 1887 in Ireland. In the 1920 census, he’s shown living in Butte, Mont., with his wife, Florence _______. He died 8 Jan. 1957 in Butte County, Calif.
  • Walter Alexander, born 23 Sept. 1888 in Clonakitty, Co. Cork, Ireland. He was in the civil service in South Africa and later lived in the United States. He registered for the World War I draft while living in Modoc County, Calif., and served in the 5 th Company, California Military Reserves. He married Dorothy R. _______ about 1920. She was born 20 Sept. 1892 in California. In the 1920 U.S. Census, Walter and Dorothy are listed living in Goldfield, Nev., with Walter working as a special agent for Standard Oil and Dorothy working as a public school teacher. In 1930, they and their children are living in Alturas, Calif. A Sherlock Spring is located a few miles southwest of Alturas and is probably named for him. Walter died in April 1975 and Dorothy died 3 June 1996, both in Mcminnville, Ore.They had three children:

a. Elizabeth A., born in 1921 in Nevada.

b. Patricia A., born in 1923 in Nevada. She married Gilbert Eugene Roberts on 11 April 1943 in Mcminnville. He was born 9 June 1918 in Brady, Wash. Gilbert was killed 10 May 1945 during World War II when his ship, USS Bunker Hill, was hit by two Japanese kamikaze planes. Patricia and Gilbert had a son:

i. John Gilbert, born 13 March 1945 in Mcminnville.

Patricia married, second, _____ Macy, who adopted her son.

c. Ramer Alexander, born 10 Feb. 1925 in California . He married Barbara _______. Ramer died in Eugene, Ore., on 26 Sept. 1997.

  • Thomas Austin, born about 1890 in Lake County, Ore.


Walter Dowman Sherlock was born 27 April 1868, the 15 th and last child of Thomas Henry Sherlock. On 18 Feb. 1892, Walter bought 160 acres in Lake County, and purchased 160 more in Lake County six years later. In 1894, he married Anna Duke, daughter of William H. and Elizabeth (Thurstan) Duke. Walter purchased a ranch at Thousand Springs, Ore., from S.T. Colvin in 1899 and engaged in the sheep business there until 1902 when the property was sold to Walter’s brother Tom. Walter and Anna then moved to Lakeview, Ore. Although they lived in town, Walter continued to raise sheep on the open range for a few years, and suffered losses at Christmas Lake during the range war of 1904. On 20 Oct. 1904, the Lakeview Examiner reported “W.A. and Thomas Sherlock returned from Bly Monday. Walter bought 1100 head of sheep from Tom, and will ship the remainder to the commission house of Don Biggs Co., San Francisco. He paid $2.25 for those he bought.” Anna is recorded as having purchased 80 acres in Lake County on 17 Feb. 1906. In the 1920 census, the family is living in Oakland, Calif. Walter and Anna had four children:

  • Kathleen, born in September 1899 in Lakeview, Ore.
  • Walter A., born 22 March 1907 in Alameda County, Calif. He died 9 Dec. 1975 in Santa Clara, Calif.
  • Allan D., born 5 Jan. 1909 in Modoc County, Calif. He died 26 Sept. 1968 in Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Charles Rolt, born 2 July 1910 in California. He died 6 July 1958 in San Bernardino County, Calif.

    August 9, 2005